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Lord Marlesford: My Lord, with respect to the noble Lord, the point I was making was that there should be a separation between the provision of military forces and the payment for them. It would not involve us in paying more, but if we are ideally placed to provide forces we should be able to do so.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that additional comment. In 10 years' time, only 20 per cent of the population of the United Kingdom will have been born before 1945. And fewer still will remember the Second World War; that brief period when Britain was a super power. I doubt whether the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph will still have such an easy audience for great power nostalgia. The transformation of the United Kingdom, which is already under way, will have taken us a good deal further.

I was very struck, as perhaps many noble Lords were, by listening to the radio and television on 1st January and hearing the repeated phrase "in each of the four capitals of the United Kingdom" this, that or the other was happening. I was not sure how one had such a multi-national foreign policy from a unified state which is why I was so reassured the other day to hear those wonderful Conservative tones coming from the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, about the defence of the realm and the United Kingdom which reassured us that the old world is somehow still there--the multi-ethnic character of our foreign policy in terms of our engagement with Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia of which others have talked. Increasing engagement with our European partners is year by year taking us further into the idea of shared European interests and British foreign policy expressed through that.

Around what should Britain's contribution to international stability be built? First, I suggest closer co-operation within our own region through playing a constructive role within Europe's regional institutions, which clearly includes enlargement, a neighbourly policy towards Russia and Ukraine and an active

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Mediterranean policy towards our dependent neighbours in the South. Secondly, a redefined partnership with the United States through NATO and through global institutions. Thirdly, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, suggested in his opening speech, support for regional institution building outside Europe in those areas that are of most concern to us within Africa, within the Middle East, particularly if, as we may hope, the relations between Israel and its neighbours may be placed in a much more favourable and firmer framework through a peace settlement, and within South and South-East Asia. That way, I suggest, offers the most constructive and affordable British contribution towards improving the international situation.

8.12 p m.

Lord Moynihan: My Lords, the first maiden speech of a new millennium in Parliament is an occasion to be noted and celebrated. It was wholly appropriate, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes, set an example which will be remembered for its content, its eloquence and its delivery for a very long time indeed. I hope that it is in order for me to say that in thanking my noble friend Lord Carrington. For a reasonably young man here to have the privilege to respond from these Benches in a debate of this nature is an honour, indeed. Far greater was the honour afforded to me to listen for some five hours to many of the finest statesmen who have been committed to serving Britain's interests in international diplomacy over the past 20, 30, 40 and in some cases almost 50 years.

To sum up the debate this evening is well nigh impossible, but I shall attempt to do so. We have heard of the manifold challenges. Our responses to these challenges and our foreign policy must surely be shaped in accordance with what has been called the "information age", a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Desai, my noble friend Lord Inglewood and, in some detail, by my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford. Through the medium of the Internet and enhanced communications, technological advances have already had a profound and dramatic effect on our society. I believe that they will continue so to do. Our foreign policy challenges can be viewed within the context of the growing globalisation of world finance, economics and politics.

In our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, many of the problems that face us, and will continue to do so, are no longer open to purely national solutions. In a sense I am speaking of the world bridged by the age of information. But I think it is also possible to speak of a world divided by an age of contradictions. We are faced with many contradictions in global society which impact upon our foreign policy: contradictions between unprecedented peace and prosperity for some and protracted conflict and desperate poverty for others, and between rapid economic globalisation on the one hand and increasing political fragmentation on the other. In a world where globalisation means that our economies are integrating faster and on more levels than ever before, paradoxically, as my noble friend

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Lord Howell of Guildford stated, the politics of separatism and nationalism are fragmenting societies and in some cases tearing them apart.

My noble friend Lord Carrington set out by looking at the Cold War and its legacy. Although in Western Europe we have basked in five decades of unprecedented peace and security, war and suffering remain part of daily life for too many people elsewhere in the world, including on our continent. Across the globe we can see countless examples of man's inhumanity to man where violence and conflict, whatever their cause, are the harbingers of chaos and carnage, fear and death. We have heard today of some of these issues: the inhumanity that can be seen in the recent separatist and religious violence in Sri Lanka and in the Spice Islands of Indonesia. They can be seen in the diamond-fuelled conflicts of Angola and Sierra Leone. They can be seen in the government-orchestrated oppression of the Karen and the Karenni people in Burma or in the vicious civil war in the Sudan. There are many more examples.

The key point behind those examples is that the majority of today's conflicts, whatever their cause, are now internal. With a few exceptions, such as the territorial war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, wars are increasingly intra-state rather than inter-state. Civilians, not soldiers, are today's main victims in the global theatre of war. As my noble friend Lord Lamont noted, this change in the nature of conflict poses a number of critical questions, the answers to which will have profound and far-reaching effects on the foreign policies we pursue in the future. These include questions over the definition of the nation state, the pursuit of foreign policy in the national interest and our legitimate spheres of action, questions of the importance and relevance of national sovereignty, particularly when gross human rights violations have taken place, and the legitimacy and the legality of military intervention under the humanitarian banner in those cases.

Here, the ideas of a permanent international investigation unit and the importance of the international court were interesting themes characteristically developed brilliantly by my noble friend Lord Hunt. A number of your Lordships have commented on the ethical dimension to the Government's foreign policy. The Prime Minister has said that the most pressing foreign policy problem that we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should become actively involved in other people's affairs. It was a view echoed today by my noble friend Lord Hurd, who recognised that we must help while we realistically can. Yet, as the Government's differing responses to the crises last year in Kosovo, East Timor and Chechnya demonstrated, the Government's looking-glass ethical foreign policy continues to obscure the solution to this tortuous problem and to distort the triumvirate of national interest, principle and common sense which influences foreign policy.

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The Government's rhetoric of high principle in the spring, when we were told that Kosovo's increasingly blood-soaked soil demanded "a battle for humanity" and a "battle for the values of civilisation" began to resemble low compromise in the autumn when terrified refugees were once again in flight--this time Chechnyan ones--and the Government were asked to explain how their ethical dimension to foreign policy was being applied to the crisis in Chechnya.

I make these observations not so much in disagreement with the action the Government have taken, but merely to echo the point made by many of your Lordships this afternoon and this evening and most poignantly by my noble friend Lord Biffen and again by the noble Lord, Lord Owen, that the relations between ethics and foreign policy are perhaps rather more complex than the Foreign Secretary's strictly presented admission statement in May 1997 acknowledged. A human rights policy and foreign policy are not the same thing; and while human rights are an important component of foreign policy, and indeed need ardent champions, not everything that is morally unacceptable around the world can be rectified by our Government.

In a world where at the flick of a television switch or at the click of a mouse human suffering and tragedy across the world are accessible in real time and where public opinion can be rapidly mobilised by, as my noble friend Lord Carrington said, the something-must-be-done mentality, the something must be done call to arms of tabloid journalism, governments are put under pressure to take action, particularly governments with ethical dimensions to their foreign policy. But our foreign policies must be formulated to take this into account rather than formulated on account of this.

So we consider what reforms are needed. As the central pillar for international co-operation on peace and security, it was right that the UN's role was a central pivot in this discussion, as it is in contemporary world politics. It is right that your Lordships reflected on today's political realities and challenges rather than on those of 1945. The subject of the reform of the UN is, I believe, a debate in itself. I hope that the usual channels may look kindly on that suggestion, certainly before the UN millennium assembly in September. For we have heard many useful contributions on that subject during this debate: from my noble friend Lord Carrington a range of suggestions, not least about the regional importance and the impact the UN can have and specific suggestions on the early warning military and intelligence advice which is so much needed by the UN Secretary General. We heard from my noble friend Lady Rawlings about the importance of anticipating crises in the world and in the international political climate that I have described. We heard from my noble friend Lord Howell about having more reliable enforcement machinery.

These suggestions are relevant in the context of another key issue, a subject which can be summarised as "winning the war and losing the peace". The United Nations has been more actively engaged in peacekeeping roles in its very recent history than in the

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whole of its previous history put together. Since 1989 there have been 35 UN-led blue beret operations, with British military participation in 17 of those 35. I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our troops for the distinction with which they have served, and continue to serve, in these operations and to record the deep debt of gratitude which we in this country owe them.

The Minister will have heard the fears that have been voiced today that the Government have presided over a spiral of overstretch of British forces, both in financial and human terms, a point made in an exemplary manner by my noble friend Lady Park of Monmouth. I hope that the Minister will take back the message to her colleagues, both in the Foreign Office and in the Ministry of Defence, that these fears must be addressed if British forces are to continue to undertake the functions which the Government have set out and which the Government have supported. I do not see this pattern of peacekeeping operations changing. We have heard today of the potential flash points across the world of nationalism, ethnic resentments and separatist tendencies which are simmering, some of which are well away from the beam of the media spotlight but which need only a spark to ignite an explosion of violence.

It has not been possible to respond to the many other issues raised by, among others, the noble Lord, Lord Owen, and my noble friend Lord Hurd with regard to the vital importance of the European security and defence identity and the EU common foreign and security policy. On the ESDI, I will simply restrict myself to saying that it is a deeply complex subject which if handled ineptly could impact disastrously on NATO. In terms of the CFSP, we have seen the cracks appearing already. The statements of Javier Solana, as high representative for the CFSP, on the desirability of an EU representation on the UN Security Council, as well as Commissioner Prodi's statements on the need for a European army, raise questions over the extent to which an enlarged Europe of perhaps 27 nations can effectively develop a consensus foreign and security policy without impairing national foreign policy decision-making. The priority must continue to be given to Anglo-American relations and indeed, as my noble friend Lord Hurd mentioned, to the vital importance of European-American relations.

In conclusion, what I can take away from today's debate is that the key challenge for our foreign and development policy will be, first, the building of a structure of global good governance, a point so well elaborated on by my noble friend Lady Chalker in the context of her work in Africa, within which democratic demands from majorities and the rights of minorities can be accommodated and which will ensure that poverty alleviation and debt relief have a real effect; secondly, the defusing of the underlying causes which trigger a particular conflict; and thirdly, the reform of our system of the international institutions to permit quick, effective and agreed humanitarian intervention and peacekeeping where necessary.

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I should like to join other noble Lords in taking this opportunity to pay tribute to the invaluable work undertaken by our diplomats, at home and abroad, the BBC World Service and the British Council in this country's contribution to the strengthening of global society and global order. Once again, I thank my noble friend Lord Carrington for initiating this debate and my noble friend Lady Park of Monmouth for providing us with a magical parliamentary moment to savour.

8.25 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, it is a great privilege to close the debate, although I fear that it will be a gargantuan task. I am grateful to all noble Lords who spoke in it and to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for tabling the Motion which made the debate possible. Virtually every speaker has referred to the noble Lord's erudition, his value and his unerring judgment. I would not like to detract from any of those comments.

In the debate on the Queen's Speech the House had an opportunity to discuss a number of the current foreign policy issues. I welcome this further opportunity to build on that debate. As the noble Lord, Lord Wallace Saltaire, rightly reminded us, next week we will have the advantage of the debate of the noble Lord, Lord Weatherill, on Pakistan. I hope that the House will understand if I respond to the comments made by noble Lords about Pakistan then.

I should like to add my congratulations to those of other noble Lords to the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes. I refer in particular to the elegant tribute paid to him by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. The intelligence and wisdom for which the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes, is already reputed were clearly shown in his speech. I associate myself with all the comments made in relation to it. I can assure the noble Lord, as one whose heritage is both British and Caribbean, that I share his commitment to the Commonwealth and that we too believe that the Commonwealth is a valuable forum for discussion of issues of world trade and international economics. I was warmed to hear the support for those sentiments which echoed from all Benches. No one in the House will be surprised that my noble friend Lady Amos and I particularly welcomed the glowing comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, about the excellence and outstanding quality and talent of Caribbean people. The concerns of the Caribbean are concerns for Her Majesty's Government. I can assure the noble Baroness that her concerns are very much mirrored by our own.

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was right to draw attention to the changes that have taken place in the world over the 10 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. The end of the Cold War brought us all great benefits--in reducing the threat of nuclear annihilation and in bringing new freedoms and opportunities to the people of central and eastern Europe. The relief that we somehow all escaped Armageddon was palpable. The world is also changing in other ways. Many noble

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Lords have spoken about it. There is the globalisation of the world economy and the information revolution, to which the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, made particular reference. Both, unthinkable 10 years ago, are having a major impact on the way people and governments interact.

The noble Lords, Lord Carrington and Lord Eden, to mention just a few, remarked on those changes. The changes are much more complicated than before. We have more opportunities but we also face new challenges. The noble Lord, Lord Lamont, would have us believe that the world has not changed; that we have remained static; that there can be no change; or that it was something that we no longer had to take into account--we did not have to live in the real world. We have new challenges because we are faced with the need to find new solutions.

Britain's foreign policy has had to adapt. The Foreign Office's mission statement sets out clearly how the Government intend to deal with those opportunities and challenges by promoting security, prosperity, the quality of life and respect for human rights.

It is of course in central and eastern Europe where the changes of the past 10 years have been most widely felt. The people of Europe have been given the historic opportunity to re-unite a continent that had been divided for a generation. A number of noble Lords mentioned the idea of a bipartisan approach to foreign affairs. I was pleased to see such clear recognition from all Benches and from some of my most distinguished predecessors at the Foreign Office that it is vital to Britain's interests that it should play a leading role in the European Union. I assure your Lordships that we shall continue to do so.

I should say to the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, and to the noble Lord, Lord Eden of Winton, that we see no dichotomy between full engagement in Europe and strong relations with the United States of America. Those relationships are complementary, not competing. They are mutually reinforcing.

The British Government have long championed EU enlargement and are working closely with the applicants to get their institutions and economies into shape. Accession negotiations with Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus began, as many noble Lords are aware, during our EU presidency in 1998. In Helsinki, heads of government agreed to start negotiations with Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Malta. The European Council agreed also that Turkey was a candidate and would be treated on the same basis as the others. The advances made by those countries, as the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, highlighted in her speech which laid particular emphasis on Bulgaria's advancement, have been acknowledged. I assure the noble Baroness that we shall seek to anticipate the problems before they arise. I am sure that we all welcome those historic decisions.

Russia, perhaps more than anywhere else in eastern Europe, has changed, almost beyond recognition, over the past 10 years. It is now a functioning democracy.

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State planning has been abolished. An independent judiciary is emerging. Progress has been made in establishing a functioning market economy. We must recognise that the transition is far from complete, but the direction of change is clear.

That does not mean that we should refrain from criticising Russia when we believe that its government are making serious mistakes; for example, in their actions in Chechnya, about which many noble Lords spoke. It is incumbent on all those in the West who want to see real partnership between our countries and Russia to let Russia know frankly and clearly when we have concerns about Russian behaviour. The Government have repeatedly recorded our concern at the Russian military action in Chechnya. We recognise that Russia faces a genuine threat and we take fully on board the concerns expressed in relation to those matters. We agreed with our EU partners in December to cut EU assistance to Russia and we are continuing to press the Russians to pursue a political solution and to use the good offices of the OSCE to achieve that goal.

We take extremely seriously the comments made by my noble friend Lord Judd about the challenges with which we are presented in that regard. We understand also the anxieties expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. I assure the noble Baroness that Her Majesty's Government are committed to alleviating human suffering around the world and that the Government take all terrorist threats seriously whatever their origin and are determined that terror shall not prevail.

Many noble Lords--I hope they will forgive me if I do not name them all--have remarked that the most unwelcome consequence of the end of the Cold War has been the re-emergence of extreme narrow-minded nationalism in the Balkans. Those pressures culminated last year in Kosovo. The situation there has been dramatically transformed over the past year. It was right for the noble Lord, Lord Owen, to remind us of the consequences that would have resulted had we not intervened. We must not forget that as we look at the considerable challenges that still lie ahead.

Many noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Judd, have said that the challenges that the UN mission and the NATO-led Kosovo force now face are immense: the physical, political and economic rebuilding of a society which has been oppressed and neglected for over a decade. We do not entirely accept the gloomy picture that has been painted by some, but we should say that they are making progress. The refugees have returned, schools have been re-opened and the basis of a modern market-oriented economy is being laid. Free and fair elections will happen.

There is in the wider Balkans an opportunity now to press home our advantage and push for genuine change across the region. The challenge for the next decade is to help the countries of the region shape their future through political and economic reforms and to bring them towards European integration. The EU, NATO, the OSCE and the countries of the region are all engaged in that process under the auspices of the

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stability pact and their own programmes. The noble Lord, Lord Hurd, asked about the size and duration of British military developments in the Balkans. I do not have the precise figures at hand. I hope that the noble Lord will be content that I shall write to him.

The challenges are formidable. But so is the prize: lasting peace and stability in the Balkans. It was right that a number of noble Lords, including the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, raised the importance and difficulties of the situation in the wider Balkans, but I assure each of your Lordships that we are watching the situation in Montenegro closely and with vigilance.

One of the consequences of the Cold War has been the way in which NATO and its member states have had to adjust their military posture to meet new realities. Noble Lords have commented upon that already. We have already welcomed Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO. At the Washington summit in April last year, NATO reaffirmed that its doors remained open to further new members.

Bosnia and Kosovo have illustrated that Europe needs to develop an effective and flexible military capability. That is why Britain launched an initiative in the European Union to develop those capabilities. The European Council in Helsinki saw a firm commitment from all members. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent of Coleshill, and the noble Lord, Lord Owen, were right to remind us that the military intervention in Kosovo was a success. We welcome the support and understanding of many of the comments made by other noble Lords from all sides of the House; in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and many others.

Our initiative has two key goals: a dramatic improvement in capabilities across Europe and to develop structures for EU crisis management operations in situations where the NATO alliance as a whole is not engaged. That is not a plan for collective defence--that is NATO's role--but rather a mechanism to deal with crisis management operations. It will help to drive change in all EU countries. We need to move away from static territorial defence towards flexible, mobile units.

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Owen, made specific mention of the European Parliament and the Commission. I reassure them that there is no role in those plans for the European Parliament or the Commission. Defence is an intergovernmental business. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent, the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, the noble Lord, Lord Eden, the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, and my noble friend Lord Longford all raised the importance of the attitude of and the importance per se of the Americans in that regard.

We are confident that they share our view that those arrangements will serve to strengthen further the North Atlantic alliance by increasing Europe's capability to act in a crisis. A stronger Europe must mean a stronger alliance.

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In response to the concerns raised by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, perhaps I may say that it is important that on 15th December 1999 the US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, himself said:

    "There should be no confusion about America's position on the need for a stronger Europe. We are not against; we are not ambivalent; we are not anxious; we are for it. We want to see a Europe that can act effectively through the Alliance or if NATO is not engaged, on its own, ... Helsinki represented from our perspective a step, indeed, several steps in the right direction".

The Americans are with us. Therefore, we are confident that a strong Europe must mean a stronger alliance. As we consider the next steps in the endeavour, I assure the noble Lord, Lord Owen, that we shall pay due attention to the advice and comments which he gave us here today. I can also reassure the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that we, too, see no danger that the nation state will disappear or lessen in significance.

Tonight we have heard views from a number of noble Lords about the Government's policy on human rights. In particular, the noble Baroness, Lady Stern, highlighted powerfully the challenges presented by disease, prison conditions and the need for penal reform, and the splendid work being done in this regard by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I am happy to tell the noble Baroness that Her Majesty's Government are one of the principal bilateral donors in the area of tuberculosis control in Eastern Europe. We have committed over £1 million in this area in close collaboration with the World Bank and the World Health Organisation. We are committed to protecting and promoting the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the core United Nations human rights instruments.

In looking around the world, there are still many regimes which are undemocratic and engaged in barbarous acts. As many noble Lords said, we cannot right every wrong. There are no magic wands or easy answers to intractable problems. However, working in co-operation with our international partners, we can make a difference. I was happy to hear the understanding of that reality echoed round the House by many, many noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, said powerfully that the world interests are our interests. I know that that sentiment seemed to find favour among many noble Lords this evening. However, we must be realistic about what we can achieve. We need also to be flexible. But that is no reason for us not to be ambitious. I welcome the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Eden, in this regard.

The noble Lord, Lord Lamont, raised the legality of NATO's actions in Kosovo. That subject has been discussed often and at length in your Lordships' House in the past months. NATO's action was legal. It was justified as an exceptional response to a humanitarian crisis, and all NATO members agree that the action was necessary and legal.

The noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, emphasised the need for prudence. I echo that need. However, in response to the challenges with which they have been

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faced on the international stage, I say without apology that Her Majesty's Government have exercised that prudence with considerable effect.

Our policy is to take whatever steps are most likely to secure real human rights improvements on the ground. I know that a number of noble Lords--the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, among others--tried to tease me to rise to a complaint about consistency. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, did so more seriously. However, at this late stage in the evening I shall not rise.

We are consistent in the goals which we pursue. But different circumstances require different methods. In extreme cases, where countries abuse all norms and rules of civilised behaviour--in cases like Milosevic, Serbia or Saddam's Iraq--we may have to resort to military action. As your Lordships know, we have done so with a heavy heart and a sense of the responsibility involved in asking our soldiers to risk their lives.

In other cases, we believe that progress is more likely to be encouraged by dialogue and engagement. That is not a soft option. For example, with Libya and Iran we have taken cautious steps to improve relations with regimes which have shown signs of re-engaging with the international community. That policy of engagement has led to positive gains; for example, the handing over of the suspects for trial in the Lockerbie case.

I turn briefly to the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, in relation to the Global Witness report about oil in Angola. We believe that Angola's oil wealth should be used for the benefit of all her people. That point was made by my right honourable friend the Minister of State, Peter Hain, in his speech at the Annual Conference on Action for Southern Africa on 20th November last year. He called also for full transparency in the handling of oil revenues. I hope that the noble Lord will accept that I shall write to him in relation to the more specific issues which he raised.

The Government are committed to the UN as the central pillar of international co-operation. But, as the Prime Minister said in Chicago last year, we must modernise the UN and find ways to make it and its Security Council work more effectively.

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, asked me a number of specific questions. If I may, I shall try to deal with them briefly. We believe that the United Nations Security Council must be made more representative of the membership of the UN, including German and Japanese membership. We have welcomed the internal reforms of Secretary General Annan, and shall continue to discuss with him and others how to enhance the UN's capacities. We continue to encourage all UN member states to meet their financial obligations to the UN.

A key challenge is to define more clearly the conditions and circumstances when it is right to intervene in the face of massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. We cannot

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expect agreement overnight. But the Government are working actively to develop a broader consensus. Kofi Annan, in his article in the Financial Times on 10th January, commented on the changing understanding of state sovereignty and the increasing weight attached by the international community to human rights. He concluded that:

    "Intervention must be based upon legitimate and universal principles if it is to enjoy the sustained support of the world's peoples".

He went on to comment that:

    "Any such evolution in our understanding of state sovereignty and individual sovereignty will, in some quarters, be met with distrust, scepticism, even hostility. But it is an evolution that we should welcome. For all its limitations and imperfections, it is testimony to a humanity that cares more, not less, for the suffering in its midst, and a humanity that will do more, and not less, to end it. It is a hopeful sign at the beginning of a new century".

I hope that we can all agree with those sentiments.

The noble Lord, Lord Biffen, spoke eloquently about Indonesia. As he knows, the Government welcome the election of President Wahid following Indonesia's first genuinely multi-party elections in over 40 years. I can assure him that the Government are devoting significant diplomatic and developmental assistance resources to aiding Indonesia in its transition to democratic politics, with greater respect for human rights than in the past.

Perhaps one of the benefits of the end of the Cold War has been the increased chance of lasting peace in the Middle East. I should like to welcome the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Wright, on the Middle East peace process on which he speaks with such authority. I welcome, too, the comments made so knowledgeably by my noble friend Lord Janner. The advances made in this area were perhaps best demonstrated by the unity mirrored by those two speeches--something which I dare say many in this House may not have expected to live to see. I can confirm that it is the Government's understanding that there is now a real possibility of peace on the Syrian track.

I fully concur with the noble Lord's tribute to the political courage shown by both parties in agreeing to resume negotiations. The United Kingdom's position on the key issues and our close relationships with all the parties enable us to speak with some authority in the region. It in no way detracts from American efforts to say that I believe that we play some part in facilitating a resumption of the negotiations. I fully agree that the United States's commitment to help the parties to reach agreement is most important. We and our European partners share that commitment and are working closely with the United States towards a comprehensive and durable peace. We are in no way neglecting the need for agreement also on the Palestinian and Lebanese tracks. We hope that it will soon be possible to look forward to a time when Arab/Israeli conflict is behind us.

The Government welcome too the efforts being made in Nigeria to consolidate democracy, eradicate poverty and build prosperity. In particular, we welcome the comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, in that regard. The challenges facing

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President Obasanjo's government are huge. The years of corruption and mismanagement by the previous regime have left untold damage. The Government have drawn up a range of measures to support Nigeria. That includes support for economic reform, security sector reform, reform of the justice system, anti-corruption, human rights and good governance.

Notwithstanding the time, I cannot end the debate without making some comment on the fine speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. He rightly referred to the failure of the WTO meeting in Seattle. I am happy to assure him that the Government share his commitment to trade liberalisation and his caution as to the introduction of non-trade issues to too great an extent into the proceedings of the WTO. However, I should say also that following Seattle, the present time is a good time for careful and mature reflection about the WTO, its procedures and public perceptions of it.

I assure the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, that we share his concern about the dangers of global warming. We shall continue to urge, as we did in Kyoto, effective action by the international community on that vital issue.

The subject of foreign affairs has been popular because it reflects the experience, interest and knowledge of so many noble Lords in this House. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and I may not agree on everything but I am happy to say that the insight which he brings to foreign affairs is shared by other noble Lords who have spoken this evening. It is a pleasure to reply to such a high-quality debate.

In particular, I echo the appreciative words of many noble Lords, including the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Young, about the men and women of our Diplomatic Service. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Park, will permit me to say that I was particularly enchanted by the vivid account which she gave. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is right to say that that will remain fresh in our memories for many years to come.

I also share the concern expressed by many noble Lords that the Diplomatic Service, the British Council and the BBC World Service should be properly funded. That is why this Government are providing an extra £219 million to those three organisations from 1999 to 2002. Perhaps I may say what a particular pleasure it has been for me--perhaps the most junior Member of this House--to have the privilege of making this response.

8.53 p.m.

Lord Carrington: My Lords, it has been a notable debate, not just for its content but for the quality of the speeches. We have heard from four former Foreign Secretaries, three former Chancellors of the Exchequer, if I can count my noble and learned friend Lord Howe twice, about six or seven former Cabinet Ministers, a host of former Ministers, two or three former Permanent Secretaries, one Field-Marshal--and one is tempted to say, "and a partridge in a pear

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tree". In fact that partridge was probably the disembodied voice audible during the speech of my noble friend Lady Cox, and I was disappointed that it was not on the Speakers' List!

This has been a long debate and this is not the moment at which to make another speech. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, for the trouble that she has taken in answering so many queries. I thank her for the speech that she has made. Once again, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes, on his maiden speech. Although it must be admitted that we have not exactly solved the problems of the world, I hope that we have given the Government something to think about and in some way have pointed out some of the errors which successive governments have committed and which should really be avoided in the future. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

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